Saturday, May 28, 2011

Girls just wanna have fun~

Today started out crazy, but ended up wonderfully!  Vet appointments for livestock, funeral sandwiches to make and get to town (late, I may add because the vet visit ran long), chores and lunch thrown at the hungry crew.  And I was thinking "this is how I'm going to spend this gorgeous Saturday?!"

Then, it all turned around.  Loaded up Bri and 2 of her friends, horses and tack, and left all of my worries to head to the Parker Arena for 4H Horse practice.  The smell of horses, the chatter of happy girls, a perfect spring breeze and warm sunshine- things were definitely looking up!

This was my idea of heaven when I was 10!
Take a look at this attitude!!

That's my girl!

Driving home in our old pickup and pulling a horse trailer, with giggling girls in the car and the smell of spring in the air, life feels just about perfect.  I think I found a new level of happiness today :-)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Losing our Momentum

I love the flexibility of homeschooling- if it's a beautiful day, then we do farm work or hang outside instead of spending all of our time stuck indoors doing schoolwork.   If we need to make a run to Sioux Falls Library to fill up on books, or take my aunt out for her birthday lunch, then we just reschedule and make up the work the next day.

Well, we are paying for that indulgence now :-(

  We have 3 weeks left of curriculum, and we are finding it hard to get excited about learning.  It's been a long winter, and our bodies crave physical activity and sunshine!  We've spent too many days standing at the window, staring out and wishing we could be communing with nature.

So, we are doing a balancing act between 1-2 hours of school a day, and all the other outdoor activities that we want to complete, such as 4H practices, gardening, and horsebackriding. Working towards that ultimate goal. The Last Day of School!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Don't let their innocent faces fool you. 

These cute little guys led us on a chase this morning that resulted in me being up to my knees in muddy water (in my favorite cowboy boots..)!

Luckily, we outsmarted them and had them rounded up and back in their pen in about 20 minutes without any major mishaps. 

No corn for you three tonight.  You're grounded!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Frugal Friday~

After stopping at the store to pick up just a few items, and walking out with $112 worth of groceries in just a few bags, it brings home to me again how important it is for a family to save as much as they can on groceries. 

 It's scarey, to see how much food has sky-rocketed the last 2 years, and there doesn't seem to be an end to the rising prices.  I don't know how other families are making ends meet, because you KNOW that our paychecks aren't rising!

I propose that everyone should plant a 2011 Victory Garden!  We are in a war of sorts, and I believe that the wisdom of FDR can pertain to an Economic War as well as a World War.

So we got all patriotic at our place, and began planting. 

Tomatoes are a staple in our household when it comes to canning, and we can never have enough.  We make our own salsa, speghetti sauce, chopped tomatoes, and tomatoe sauce for chilis and casseroles. Because tomatoes are so acidic, they can remain canned for many years without damage,  I can EVERY STINKIN TOMATO that I can in the fall, and I still find that there are years when I run out.  (Don't forget, tomatoes are full of lycopene, a cancer preventing agent, so you can never get enough of them in your diet.)

Back in February, we ordered our tomato and pepper seeds from The Tomato Supply Co and began growing them in the kitchen so we would have enough seedlings to plant.  (see previous post- I included a picture of my makeshift Grow Shelf)  We've watered them faithfully, adding fish emulsion once they were large enough, and we ended up with 135 tomatoe plants for our garden.  (WARNING:  Fish emulsion smells exactly as you would imagine ground up fish that have been fermenting in a jug, so be prepared....)

This past week, the kids and I planted our 135 tomatoes.

It took up most of our large garden, but they are worth it!!  Frankly, I can barely stomach a tomato from the grocery store- they are picked before they get ripe, that sun ripened sweetness, and many taste like cardboard.  There is nothing that compares to a garden ripened tomatoe on a sandwich, or just plain with a little bit of sugar sprinkled on it. (Okay, now my mouth is watering...)

There are many ways of using your Frugal Talents during this process. 
  • When I plant the seedlings, I reuse the 6 pack containers every year, so I don't have to purchase those more than once. (bought a pack from a wholesale landscaping company several years back, and they are still working well.)
  •  I bought 2 large bags (same landscaping company) of potting soil that greenhouses use, and I also reuse as much of that as I can every year.  Those 2 bags will last me about 4 years, and I plant ALOT.
  • We cut the tops and bottoms off of 2 liter pop bottles that my folks save for me-they protect the seedlings from wind damage, and actually function like a mini-greenhouse by trapping in alot of the moisture so the plants and soil don't dry out as quickly.
  • Don't forget about the conversion of the plastic toy shelving into a "seed growing chamber"! 
  • Also, if you order seeds with friends, you most likely can qualify for certain volume discounts.  My friends and I order many of my seeds from Fedco,  and they offer a significant discount for volume orders.  They are also one of the few to offer free shipping of your seeds if you reach a certain order amount. 

[ On a side note, I also support Fedco for "global and political" reasons- they do not carry genetical modified seeds, nor do they support Mons*nto varieties, or Mons*nt0's goal of gaining a monopoly on the planet's seed supply.  I applaud Fedco's stand against the Giant.]

So, for all of you salsa loving, speghetti slurping, chili cookin people, growing your own tomatoes is the only way to go.  Do it for your it for your country!  :-)
(pipe in the National anthem......)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Springtime busy-ness~

WELL.................I was going to blog about how we were keeping busy while we wait for more news on the China front, and just as I was about to begin, I got a call saying that...

We got PA.... We got PA...!!

Doing the Happy Dance in my kitchen. :-) 

So now, we again wait- for the LOA, telling us that China has authorized our request for Quinn.  And THEN, I can begin to post pics.  Can't wait for you to see her adorable face- squeezable cheeks, and just a glint of mischief in her eyes!

So, "While we wait" again, we were presented with another diversion to take our minds off of the wait.

We were given a trampoline!!  Never thought we would own one, but the price was right (free) so who am I to argue with that?  (However, I am getting a net for it)

I'm told that most kids will live on it for the first 2 weeks, then they will get bored with it, so we'll see.  So far, every opportunity they have had, during breaks in school or chores, they are climbing on it and having such a good time.  Maybe once they get bored, old Mom and Dad can get a chance to use it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

PA, Where are you??

Acronym Pop Quiz- are you ready?

We sent off our LOI last Monday and have been checking our email religiously to see if we have received our PA yet.  Other AP's have posted that they've received their PA in as little as 1 business day, so where the heck is ours???

How'd you do?  LOI is Letter of Intent, telling China that we want to adopt Quinn.  PA is their pre-approval to let us know that she is available and that things are looking good.  Once they look through our dossier, then they give us the formal approval, called LOA, Letter of Approval.  AP's are adoptive parents, and we are a chatty bunch- comparing everything from packing lists for the trip to timeframes for paperwork. 

So, we wait.  We will continue to put in the garden, ride the horses, teach the kids, clean the house, and count the days until we get the go-ahead. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hanging out at Kinkos

These are copies- the originals were bright blue.
Friday, Camille and I ran up to Sioux Falls to retrieve our dossier from our adoption agency.  We had sent it earlier in the week to Pierre to receive it's state certification stamps from the Secretary of State, then had it sent back to our agency.  Now, we have to have 4 copies of each document with it's cover letter/seal, so we were off to Kinkos to make copies- it took almost 2 hours to complete it all, but it's done!! 

Then, back to the agency to give them 2 of the copies and the originals, and they are then forwarded to the National Bethany office for authentication and translation.    Then we are....

DTC- Dossier to China!!!

Each pile represents time spent the last 9 months gathering documents, taking physicals, interviewing for our homestudy, coercing relatives for statements, hunting down a notary public with a current notary seal.... They don't call it a paper chase for nothing.

 Tough paper pregnancy, but we are starting to see the fruits of our labor, so to speak.  (pun intended)

I've been taking deep breaths ever since we turned it in to Bethany.  Now if I can only keep myself busy as the process works itself out; our file travels to several offices to be stamped and moved on to the next desktop or file pile. The waiting is tough, because I want to scoop her up and begin loving on her as soon as we can!!  She's been without a mom and dad long enough.

 I've already begun preparing her room and purchasing clothes that should fit her this fall, and I've collected items for her baby book, repainted her room, and yes...I'm working on her first baby quilt!  Anything to keep my mind off of the wait, and feel like I'm doing something productive during this interlude until we travel. 

 Besides, it will be nice to have everything in place when we come home with her, so that we can focus on bonding with her and spending the time to help her adjust to her new home and family.

Let the nesting begin!  :-)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dancing with the Stars

Our Activities department at our local nursing home is very active and encourages family and friends to be involved with the activities and events. 

Last week was the annual 'Dancing with the Stars', and Camille paired up with her friend, Dietrich, to compete.  They got together 2 different days to "practice", which is kid-speak for "work on the dance for about 10 minutes then play outside for 3 hours".

Thank goodness they are both quick to pick up on the routine!  They were so cute, blushing and bowing, and the residents just loved watching them perform.


Viborg's version of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

     They did such a great job, and even won 3rd place, which was zoo tickets and a gift certificate for pizza!!   

Great Job, Camille.  You are our Little Star!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We've made it to the Acronyms!!!

The adoption process has a language of it's own.  When you get the first of many lists, you will notice many acronyms that mean nothing to you, but will eventually mean everything!

After working and completing 3 very extensive to-do lists, we've made it to the fun part of the lists!  The words that get bantied and used on yahoo email groups of other adoptive parents, the phrases that people use to determine how far you are in the process.

"Are you LID yet? "
"We sent in our LOI and have PA back- waiting on our LOA.  Hoping we will receive TA soon so we can travel before winter..." 
"We are requesting a girl, AYAP, CL/CP,  and hope to be DTC this month".

Seriously- this is how they communicate!!  (And by THEY, I mean ME now too!)

And now, we finally have our own acronym to throw around.  

As of May 10, we have our LOI sent off to China!!  This is our Letter of Intent, telling the CCAA (I KNOW, another one!) in China that we want to adopt the little girl on our referral.

This starts the ball rolling as far as China is concerned.  It's no longer just working with agency requirements, now we are complying with the Chinese regulations in regards to adopting from their country.  This is where it gets REALLY exciting!

After China receives our LOI, they will send us a PA, Preapproval, and then we wait for them to review our file.  Once that is done, they will send us our LOA- Letter of Approval.  That means that it's a go!!  (Unless something goes very, very wrong, and we don't want to think about that :-( 

Tonight, I will make 6 copies of those very valuable documents in our dossier, which just got back from Pierre being certified, and then the dossier is ready to forward to China as well. 

Onward and upward- getting closer and closer to bringing our daughter home. 

 My insides are dancing!!

Mother's Day Gift...

This is what my son handed me for Mother's Day....

No explanation. 

I'm 4'11, and probably shrinking as we speak, so I was confused and slightly insulted.

When Loren saw the look on my face, he began to laugh!!  Then he explained that they got it in the garden section.

Ohhhhhhhhhh.  Now I get it. :-)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day~

"I think my life began with waking up and loving my mother's face."  George Eliot

Every Mother's Day I face the dilemma of how to show my appreciation to my Mother with something as paltry as a card and random gift.  Truthfully, there is no way to begin to thank a person who has had the most influence on the person that you become.

And I realize that there is no "pay back" gift that can show how much we value them in our lives. 

The best way I can honor and appreciate all of the attention and nurturing that she gave me is to pass it on to MY children, so they can also grow up feeling valued... important...loved.

Me and my Mom

"One generation plants the trees, another gets the shade."  Chinese proverb
(I thought that one was pretty relevant, considering ...!)

So today, I spent the entire day doing things with the kids and showing them how much I value them. 

Mom, thank  you for leading me down the pathway of love, of right living, and of family. 

 You have helped shape me to be the woman and mother that I am, and I in turn, will shape my daughters to be the women they will become. 

Thank you for the legacy of love~

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Birthday Bash

I'm clueless....completely clueless.  Must be the blonde hair.

My husband, family, and friends conspired to surprise me and throw me the best birthday bash EVER!!    They led me to believe we were all preparing for Matt and Sharon's anniversary dance, and all the while they were making secret phone calls and emailing behind my back!  The nerve.

Boy, was I surprised when we walked in to the "anniversary dance" a few minutes late, and there were around 60 people yelling "Surprise!"  Crazy fun!  All my favorite peeps were there!  Lots of hugging and "Did you suspect?" questions from everyone.  Lots of strange discrepancies from the past few weeks began to fall into place, and that made for alot of giggling!

 The whole evening, Loren was just glowing with happiness. Everyone enjoyed watching him shower me with love almost as much as I enjoyed being showered!

I got to dance with Loren to our wedding song and hear Travis sing karaoke for us- both of which  made my heart swell.

Loren also included a very humbling powerpoint presentation on my life, which made me feel like a celebrity and almost made me cry.  God, I love that man!

Turning 50 wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  In fact, it was memorable.  :-)

Monday, May 2, 2011

I-800 Approval!!

Saturday was a momentous day here at the Johnson house- our I800 approval arrived!!  We had been logged in on March 9th, and last time I had called the USCIS to check on the progress of our file, it hadn't been assigned to a worker yet.  Then suddenly, (actually 52 days after submission) it arrived, just when I wasn't looking for it! :-)

For those of you who are new to adoption lingo, this form gives us approval from our US Government, to adopt a foreign born child.  They have gone through our homestudy and fingerprints to make sure we are "worthy", and this qualifies as a major milestone in the foreign adoption timeline.

Another arrival that day was the Ergo baby carrier/sling thing that I had ordered from the BabyDeal site.  They are toted as "essential" when adopting a child under the age of two in China.  Apparently there is alot of walking during the 2 weeks you are in-country, so consider me prepared!

Doing the Happy Dance at our house!